The sweet scent of baking vanilla and cinnamon flavors the air; I take a rapturous breath in and register an undertone of coconut and chocolate dancing on the back of my tongue. If the first step in taste is smell, it was safe to say that this experience was already off to a rip-roaring start. One step into Doughology in Lynbrook Village and I was already intoxicated. Almost involuntarily, I felt my eyes rolls back in ecstatic bliss in true Homeric style as I took another inhale, mentally gurgling in Simpson’s voice as loudly as my stomach, “Mmm, doughnuts…”
Stopping to gape at the proudly-on-display immaculate doughnut-making machine, then at the special blueberry rings and a doughnut rendition of the classic New York black-and-white cookie, I nearly forgot what I was there for. True, any story for Edible focuses on phenomenal food, but I was drawn to Doughology for the story.
Many may be familiar with co-owner Jackie Stiansen’s background. A former stockbroker who survived a harrowing breast cancer diagnosis, her brush with fatal disease revealed a new perspective on life. She no longer wanted to sit behind a desk in an office—she wanted to do something she was passionate about. More importantly, she wanted to make a difference.
The story you may not be familiar with is her husband Chris Stiansen’s, whom I was there to meet.
As I ogled the photo board of their daily Donut Express offerings (of which there are 15 luscious choices to make), a man with a big presence and even bigger smile strode up to me.
“Hi, I’m Chris,” he said, reaching a strong hand out for a firm shake. “I’m the ‘head’ Doughologist.”
A former New York City detective, Chris comprises the other half of the husband and wife team that has brought the concept of small-batch, hand-topped, customizable doughnuts to Long Island. A devoted husband and father, the very epitome of a family man, it was with his full support that his wife Jackie was able to realize her dream of a simpler life serving her community in a different way but similar spirit as her husband had.
“Through Doughology, we’re able to do so much as a vehicle for philanthropy,” he shared. “I love that we’ve created such a phenomenon here for cancer survivors. A lot of people came in just to meet Jackie. They’d talk, cry, and laugh together. They’ve had me in tears about survival, telling their unique and uplifting stories that mean even more to us as a family-oriented, family-owned, and family-operated business.
“In addition, it’s a great way to give back,” Chris said with conviction. “We do special awareness batches of doughnuts that we sell, and donate 100% of the proceeds to charitable causes. Our pink doughnuts are currently going toward a breast cancer walk the Avon 39 team is doing. We were proud to offer purple doughnuts to support Relay for Life, and even prouder to have raised $1,000 over two months toward their event right here in Lynbrook.”
Although there’s incredible attention to detail to the product—premium and name-brand toppings, specialty bakery-grade ingredients, and trans-fat-free frying oil—this charitable work is a key driving focus at Doughology. Unlike many businesses, they “didn’t open this place for the money,” Chris said. With little bit of sheepishness, he admitted, “We didn’t expect the overwhelming response and support, and had to recently upgrade our equipment and streamline our ordering to meet the demand. Our first Saturday, we had to close our doors for an hour to regroup!”
That was during their soft opening, but clearly, the only thing soft about it was the texture of the fluffy, delectable doughnuts they quickly ran out of.
Perhaps that good karma is exactly why this place has been so successful, with lines out the door on some days and wrapping around the corner when the coveted rainbow cookie doughnuts are available.
“It takes us 12 hours to make 800 of them,” he confided, when asked why it wasn’t on the permanent menu. “So we make them in limited batches and only sell four per customer when we have them. They’re a lot of work, but people love ‘em, and I have to admit, I do, too.”
True to Long Island tradition, there’s almond paste and almond extract in every bite. It’s a whopper at nearly twice the size of one of their palm-sized confections, comprised of one each of golden, green and rosy doughnut halves. In between each layer is raspberry jelly. Chocolate runs down the naked cake sides and a real rainbow cookie lets you measure the doughnut against the inspiration.
Another seasonal doughnut to try right now is the blueberry dough, with your choice of toppings or their suggestions, and real blueberries incorporated right into the cake. This fall, look for apple and pumpkin—I know I will!
Available all the time for a mere $2 each are such flavors as Peanut Butter Cup, child-friendly and sprinkle-covered Confetti, S’mores with tiny marshmallows and graham cracker crumbs, Apple Strudel with big chunks of apple pie filling, and Chocolate Oreo, featuring large chunks of this beloved cookie. A huge favorite among Yelpers is the Maple Bacon, which features crumbled thin strips of bacon over a not-too-sweet layer of glaze, and the Lemon Coconut, whose subtle balance of flavor is somehow both rich and light. All of these lend themselves beautifully to doughnut ice cream sundaes/sandwiches, which are also on the menu, and are beautiful boxed as wedding favors.
Chris loves the Crumb Cake and Cheesecake, both of which can be topped with fruit and the latter of which is so proprietary that family member and Doughologist Kelly Lieggi “still won’t give me the recipe!” he laughs. However, “gun to my head,” he said, the French Toast gets top billing, especially when made even more irresistible in their breakfast special form. For that, the doughnut is dipped in classic batter then pressed to a pancake texture, offering the best of breakfast decadence in one delightful treat. It’s a steal at $4.25 with a side of bacon or sausage.
His preference comes from a place of long-time research on the job, Chris jokes, professing, “I knows my way around a donut [sic]!”
The humor in a retired cop opening a doughnut shop is not one lost on him. In fact, he embraces it, both on the business side and the philanthropic side. For example, the outstanding coffee served—including the 24-hour cold brew—comes from a partnership with local fellow officer-owned roaster, East Coast Roast in Island Park, for a match that goes as well together as … well, coffee and doughnuts.
As for community, he was thrilled to have been able to participate in a recent civilian show of support for our men and women in blue when dozens of volunteers chipped in to deliver doughnuts to police officers and state troopers on duty from Brooklyn to Nassau and all the way through to Suffolk.
That’s not the only way these doughnuts travel, though. Doughology is kept busy with requests for party favors, doughnut celebration cakes and towers, and their innovative doughnut bar, which brings the experience right to your block party, barbeque or any other type of special event. For those, his team comes to the site requested, traveling as far as Montauk with plain doughnuts as canvases for the full suite of nearly all 21 warm and candied toppings. For a smaller scale off-site snack, there’s also doughnut fun dips, which includes five cut-up doughnuts and one topping and dip for dunking, or doughnut nachos, which is half a dozen doughnuts and two toppings and dips each.
In pieces those last options may be, but Doughology in itself is a full and perfect circle. Sweet treats meet good deeds here, a satisfying cycle of how businesses can—and should—feed back into the community. With sprinkles on top.